For Culture Night Belfast this year, the theme was love. Women Aloud NI had two events in the programme. At the one I read at, each of the readers was given a letter and told to write a love letter to it. I got the letter L, and this is what I made of it:
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England: the place I lived for three years in my late teens/early twenties.
When I thought about what I wanted to write about for this love letter, there were a lot of options, but I think a part of me will always come back to Lincoln.
While at university there, I learned a lot – a lot of it the hard way and absolutely none of it to do with the actual subject I was supposed to be studying.
I fell in love with the city before I had even visited, having poured over guidebooks, maps, and watched a ton of tourism videos. Then, when I did get to see the place in person, for an open day, I knew it was all going to go well from the moment I slipped on some wet leaves while walking down the big hill and ended up with brown sludge smeared all over my backside for the rest of the day as I met other prospective students as well as my future lecturers.
It was all uphill from there. Then downhill for a bit, then uphill again, before finally going up in flames. Which is to say, my experience in those three years was… mixed.
I’m one of only a few people who made friends with one of my more eccentric lecturers who, in my very first class, presented me with some choice sectarian statements designed to offend me and amuse him, and I’m one of an even fewer number who got to graduate without finishing their degree.
One time, I spent almost five hours in McDonalds with a group of friends as we talked about life, the world, and everything.
In those days, the Christian Union house on Hewson Road was the centre of the universe to the most of us.
Oh, and there was the time I got tided to a tree! That was one of the better days, believe it or not, filled with pranks and hot chocolate and infectious laughter as we compared our injuries from games of Spoons, Capture the Being, and Extreme Snap.*
A lot of the stories and inside jokes don’t make sense even with context – you kind of had to be there at the time – but all I can say is, despite the more difficult aspects of my stay in Lincoln, I’m glad I was.
*Technically, this day of mad adventures didn’t happen in Lincoln but on a weekend away with all the University of Lincoln Christian Union people. To me, when I talk about Lincoln, I’m not just talking about the place, but those people and our adventures, so it still counts.